Sunday, June 17, 2012

Villagize may help with de-anonymizing cities so we know our neighbors

One of the complaints about modern times is how the technology, and architecture of cities, gets in the way of the humans finding each other.  We can drive a 100 miles in the blink of an eye, travel to the other side of the planet in a day of air travel, but do we know our neighbors?  Those people who live next door, and are always trimming trees in the yard, what are their interests, their names, their needs, their hopes, and so on?  Do they have a set of socket wrenches you need to do a project?  Maybe your power drill would be perfect for their project.  We can read the mad ramblings of a blogger a thousand miles away, but how do we find out what our neighbors think?  We no longer live in old style Villages where everyone knows each other, but instead we live in anonymous cities where nobody knows each other.

Villagize may be a solution to this sort of problem.  Maybe.  See Villagize.com

You sign up with Villagize via a Facebook account, and it has some viral features to spread through your Facebook friends list.  

The main feature on Villagize is to show maps of people.  These people can be your "friends" (as defined by Facebook friend relationships), or friends of friends, or can be anybody in your city or region.  For searches of local people, you can narrow the search for people looking for a kind of resource like a Rake.  

Another feature is "deals" where Villagize collects special deals from businesses using various services like Yipit.

If you're looking for something, like a MIG welder, you can post on Villagize asking if anybody has one.  Or ask what the best deal on a Chinese restaurant is in the area.  

This could be a force for Relocalization, or the conscious purposeful effort to build local community, shop at locally owned markets, and know our local neighbors.  Suppose a significant portion of a local population began using Villagize, sharing connection with each other over who needs a rake, or who needs a lawnmower, or which Chinese restaurant is the best, this would help to build lines of connection within that city to form a web of connectedness.  But - does Villagize have what it takes to play a significant role?

One thing which stands out is that we-the-people don't seem to be able to post a Deal on the website.  

Another is that Villagize offers connections with our neighbors over things we're looking for.  Is this a sufficient range of possible connections to form a significant community?  I doubt it.  What about information on scheduled events?  Or what's the local news activity?  There's a lot of things we could connect with our neighbors over beyond who needs to borrow a rake.